Friday, February 28, 2014

Meister's Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014 #9-Two Timers

Well, The Meister is back to ramble on once again this week, although I do apologize for being a bit late in posting this one, busy busy around the "Meister Stronghold".  We're under a month to go now and with my MORC 2014 playlist resonating through my speakers I've spent almost every free moment of the week studying the PDF deck plans of our vessel, planning my routes of passage, locating my cabin, the bars and restaurants, the concert venues and anything else of note.  I feel that I have a decent knowledge of the MSC Divina, which I'm sure will all get thrown out the window as I actually get on board and get into the frosty adult beverages (as my liver groans in complaint of the punishment that it will soon endure)!  Last week I took a look at some of the activities, events and community of The Monsters of Rock Cruise and this week let's explore a little of the bands returning for their second MORC voyage.  Being the chivalrous guy that I am we'll begin with the ladies first.

Femme Fatale was new on my radar when I saw their name appear in the list of bands announced in 2013 and wanting to familiarize myself with the music I started a little research.  The minute that I saw the video on you-tube for "Waiting For the Big One" I knew that I'd seen and heard this awesome song long ago in days of youth spent in my school friend's basement watching MTV via his satellite dish.  Never having caught on in my
Femme Fatale's Lorraine Lewis
 circles, neither my friends nor I had owned or even heard the full Femme Fatale album and I immediately searched it out for purchase.  What a delicious piece of female fronted melodic rock it turned out to be.  Femme Fatale opened the pool stage at noon on March 17th during last year's excursion with an incredible performance, a slice of caught by this cruiser as he filmed "Waiting For the Big One" - MORC 2013 by Randy Gill.  Front woman and founder Lorraine Lewis is the sole original member now having recruited an all female crew for the re-birth of Femme Fatale.  The axe slinging (beer loving) duo of Courtney Cox and Nita Strauss (both of The Iron Maidens), bassist Janis Tanaka (L7), Katt Scarlett on keyboards, drummer Rachel Rhine and special guest drummer Athena Lee (Tommy's sister) are all a part of the new Femme Fatale.  I look forward to their shows this year and also at my first M3 festival a few weeks later.  For a more comprehensive look at Femme Fatale's history take a gander at last year's Meister's "Views of the Cruise" - Volume #3-Heavy Metal Maidens showcasing the lady performers on 2013's Lost Weekend Cruise.  Lorraine Lewis herself complimented me on the accuracy and depth of the
Meister & Lorraine Lewis at Rhino Bucket - MORC 2013
research (pat on my back).  For a short review of their show in one of the lounge bars last year check out my Volume #18-Daily Diary for March 18, 2013 from that day. Here's a couple more Femme Fatale MORC videos from the pool stage show last year : "Cradle's Rockin'" - MORC 2013 by Feeelis, "Falling In & Out of Love" - MORD 2013 by Jim Dumay and "Rebel" - MORC 2013 by Frankenstyle (distorted sound quality).....a definite must on my MORC 2014 list!

Next up is Vixen, the all female band from the 80's sometimes referred to as the female Bon Jovi and responsible for such hits as "Edge of a Broken Heart", "Cryin'" and "How Much Love".  Last year they were performing under the moniker of JSRG, taking the first initial of each of the first names of the band members, Janet Gardner (vocals), Share Ross (formerly Pedersen, bass), Roxy Petrucci (drums) and Gina Stile (in the role previously held by Jan Kuehnemund, guitar).  It had been widely reported that original member Jan Kuehnemund (guitar) who was supposedly not on good terms with the rest of the band
JSRG on the Pool Stage
 held the rights to the name Vixen, rendering Gardner, Petrucci and Ross unable to perform under that banner.  It turns out that Kuehnemund had planned a reunion with her former Vixen band mates in 2012, but that was sidelined when she was diagnosed with cancer.  After her tragic passing in October 2013, the ladies ("realizing that a band belongs to the fans, Gardner, Petrucci and Ross have called upon Stile to join them in continuing the Vixen tradition and honoring the fans.  The legacy lives on...") have decided to move forward and this year board the boat under the Vixen moniker in tribute to Jan Kuehnemund.  Last year the ladies were set to play the pre-party taking place the night before boarding and free to all cruisers.  Knowing the Vixen catalog fairly well, but not being a huge fan I decided to attend more for the social gathering with
Share Ross on the Pool Stage
cruise friends and check them out.  I was
absolutely blown away, the ladies were awesome! (Meister's "Views of the Cruise" Volume #15-Day #3 also known as Friday)  and I made a point to catch their second show, this one aboard ship on the pool stage on the second day of sailing (Meister's "Views of the Cruise" Volume #17-Sunday March 17, 2013).  Share Ross complimented me on my photo of her in the Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) pose, something she's been trying to emulate and I'm on the lookout to get a better shot of it this year!  Happy to have them back aboard and also will make sure that I do not miss both back to back shows scheduled at Toronto's Rockpile in May.  Once again some cruise performance videos to check out: "Edge of a Broken Heart" - MORC Pre-Party 2013 by FastlanemusicBoston, "Rev It Up/How Much Love" - MORC 2013 by twotallonesplay and "Streets in Paradise" - MORC 2013 by ravagetoys

Last year before we got on the ship I was involved in a conversation during which a few folks were adamant that "chicks just don't rock as hard as guys do", but don't be fooled by the keyboard heavy recordings.....both of these bands absolutely blew me away and kicked my ass hard last year......yes I got my ass kicked by girls!  Let's see if they can live up to it again in 2014!

Dangerous Toys was a rare style of treat on last years' cruise and many have put their close out show on the pool stage up as the best show of the boat, but I'm sticking with Keel or Saxon on that score personally. Make no mistake, The Dangerous Toys rocked the ship in my first time seeing them play and it was great to hear some of the Toys classics that are among my most
Jason McMaster on MORC 2013
treasured listens in a live setting.  They ripped through classics such as "Scared" - MORC 2013 by L Russell, "Pissed" - MORC 2013 by Randy Gill (distorted audio) (probably my favorite D'Toys song) and "Teas'n Pleas'n" - MORC 2013 by concertsrock.  I'm aiming to take in both of D'Toys sets aboard ship in 2014 if possible and will put them ahead of many others.  For my #2 volume of last year's cruise ramblings I had an interview with none other than Dangerous Toys front man Jason McMaster (Meister's "Views of the Cruise" Volume #2-A Chat With Jason McMaster) and he was such a nice guy when I met him in person aboard ship.  Hopefully one day I'll be able to catch one of his other outfits, Broken Teeth as well.  A few videos from their earlier set, which looks to me to be even better than the close out show on the pool stage that I caught: "Sport'n a Woody" - MORC 2013 by feeelis and "Outlaw/Take Me Drunk" - MORC 2013 by frankenstyle
L.A. Guns were much, much better than I was expecting when I saw them perform at the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party a couple of days before sailing last year.  I had a couple of the albums in my collection of course but was not a huge fan by any means until that show (Meister's "Views of the Cruise" Volume #14-Day #2).  That being said it was still pretty cool to be the one to deliver the guitar for Steve Riley to autograph, a raffle contest feature at the 2013 event.  I felt bad walking up to him as he was enjoying his lunch in a little artists only area set aside at the Bahia Cabana hotel in Fort Lauderdale, the scene of the festivities.  Seeing as I interrupted him I simply delivered the instrument and spoke few words, deciding not to regale him with questions and stories or add to the autograph duties by slipping in a few album covers.  Being as impressed as I was by that show at the pool party, I cleared space in my shipboard concert going to fit them in.  When I arrived and heard the rumors circulating, my heart dropped.  Guitarist Michael Grant had forgotten his passport or any other ID and had been denied boarding.  To the Guns credit they soldiered forth with Phil Lewis handling all guitar duties.  There were no real solos and it sounded a little flat compared to the blistering show a few nights before, but was still
Michael Grant @ Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party 2013
enjoyable.  This year there have been a couple of countdown shots surface on the Monsters of Rock Cruise Facebook page showing Michael Grant prominently displaying his passport in preparation for this years voyage.....check them out if you can, I know I will be!  I spend too much time searching you-tube videos of past cruises apparently, but here's a few of L.A. Guns: "The Ballad of Jayne" - RGWPP 2013 by Kitty Park, "The Ballad of Jayne/Rip & Tear" - MORC 2013 by metal martell and "My Koo Ka Choo" - MORC 2013 by concertsrock
From the "Land of the Rising Sun", Japan's Loudness are back for another facemelting session!  Being a big lover of Loudness' 80's work and some of the 90's as well, they were a sweet addition to The Lost Weekend in 2012.  I'm not so keen on their newer work, very heavy thrash style music as guitarist and chief
Akira Takasaki - MORC 2013
composer Akira Takasaki continues his musical journey.  However the more I listen to it the more it grows on me and one thing's for have to see Takasaki live to believe it!  His guitar work adds meaning to the term facemelting although I cant figure out whats with the dreadlock wig he wears on stage.   I was disappointed to find that they were cancelling their tour stop in Toronto the day before my birthday in April (the second time they've dumped a Toronto show recently), but I'll see them aboard ship and I hope to encounter more things such as this video of my friend "Serenading Akira" on the private beach of Coco Cay, very cool and only on MORC I'm sure!  Until then: "Heavy Chains" - MORC 2013 by feeelis, "Crazy Nights" - MORC 2013 by ncp10269 and "The Stronger" - MORC 2013 by poodles 1970 should keep you enticed.

The Meister has seen Great White a few times in the long lost days of youth and they are a band that has been through a lot over the years.  A widely publicized lawsuit and court proceedings regarding the disputes over just who owns the rights to the name after the separation between Jack Russell and the band is still not fully settled I don't believe.  Now in 2014 we find two factions or versions of Great White in operation.  One is Jack Russell's Great White led by the original vocalist and front man, Jack Russell, while the other faction saw the remaining Great White band members recruiting XYZ crooner Terry Ilous.  This latter version released the Elation album in May of 2012 and its actually quite a good album.  It doesn't sound quite right without Jack Russell's distinctive vocal stylings, but if it came out under a different band name I wouldn't be comparing it to that and would just be enjoying it for what it is.  Last year the Terry Ilous fronted Great White treated us to an acoustic set on the beaches of the island of Coco Cay, but being vertically challenged as I am I couldn't see as the stage was literally ground level.  No matter, I generally prefer the electrically charged barrage for my listening poison anyway......and there's the Femme Fatale ladies in bikinis over by the bar!  During their performance the next day aboard ship they held a touching moment bringing up one of the survivors of the horrific Station Fire to sing with them ("Save Your Love" (with Station fire survivor Linda Fisher) - MORC 2013 by FanForward). I missed this section
Terry Ilous with Great White - MORC 2013
 of the performance as I had drifted off to catch the next show on another stage.  I do certainly look forward to seeing what this Great White rejuvenation holds in store in the new music department, but they're not the highest on my list to see this year, preferring the Jack Russell version personally.  It will depend who else is on at the same time I guess.  "Once Bitten Twice Shy" (with special guests) - MORC 2013 by M Marr, "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" (acoustic) - MORC 2013 by Edogawa Schlins and "Lady Red Light" - MORC 2013 by FanForward

Dio Disciples however is up near the top of the "refuse to miss list".  I saw them aboard last year and then again when they rolled into Toronto last summer (Stand Up & Shout at the Rockpile), but some of Dio's solo albums are absolutely revered in my collection.  Dio Disciples are a collection of Ronnie James Dio's friends and former band mates playing a tribute to the rock God and carry on his legacy all in support of a great charity.  Ronnie James Dio sadly passed away from stomach cancer in 2010, so the Stand Up & Shout Cancer Fund raises funds and spreads awareness in his name.  Last year I purchased a bracelet (black rubber or plastic) for a minimal $5 and it has been securely placed on my wrist since that day, something that I think every cruiser should purchase.  Great souvenir for low price and good cause.  The Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund has also teamed up with Monsters of Rock to raffle off a custom Harley Street Glide Special motorcycle sporting the MOR Cruise graphics.  Tickets are for sale aboard once we reach international waters for an extremely reasonable price considering the bounty!  Cancel my flight kids....I'm riding home in style!  For those arriving in Florida early or if
The custom MOR Harley motorcycle
you live in the area even, The Dio Diciples are playing a pre-cruise show in Fort Lauderdale at the Culture Room on March 26th (Event Page on Facebook).  I highly recommend you take in the event if you can, but watch out for wild MOR Cruisers as I'm sure there will be a good portion of us there as well.  For a sample here's a few videos: "Stand Up & Shout" - MORC 2013 by M Marr, "Holy Diver" - MORC 2013 by Tor Erik Brunstrom and "Egypt (The Chains Are On)/Stargazer" - MORC 2013 by feeelis

I've never really caught the buzz of The London Quireboys (and I'll take some heat for saying that from friends I'm sure!) aside from the "7 O'clock" song of course.  I've tried a few times and have a couple of the CD's, but maybe the live performance will change my mind.  I completely missed them last year, choosing the other shows over theirs both times and caught a couple of acoustic songs while I was at Sweden Rock Festival in June 2013, but it didn't do much for me.  We'll see who they're up against and make a game time call when the band schedule gets released.

Firehouse were aboard for the inaugural voyage in 2012 and I rather avoided them, again there were always other bands playing in the same time slot as them that were higher on my bucket list to see.  I wonder if this was perhaps a mistake on my part,
but Firehouse is back again in 2013 and I've been listening to some of their music, giving it much more merit than I had thought at first.  I will definitely make a point to check them out this year at the pre-party and also they are on the bill for Nottingham England's Firefest: The Final Fling festival that I'll be crossing the pond for in October.

Cheap Thrill were also aboard last year and contain Jeff LaBar and Eric Brittingham both of Cinderella along with Brandon Gibbs.  I missed them last year as I did with A.J.'s Bravehearts fronted by AJ Fratto who are also back for round #2.  I've heard good reports about both outfits and we'll see if I can work them into the plan for this excursion. There's almost more rock aboard this vessel than one can handle.....I love it!

*****All concert photography by Rich "The Meister" Dillon on MORC 2013 and the events surrounding it*****

Getting soooo pumped for this year's voyage, I can hardly begin to explain it!  Co-workers and friends are sick of hearing about it and every spare moment is spent scouring deck plans or re-living last year through my photos and cruiser shot videos posted on you-tube!  March 26th cannot come soon enough!

The Meister ("LIKE" The Meister on Facebook)

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